September 9 – Father Laval Day in Mauritius

Posted on September 9, 2015

Once upon a time, in the early 1800s, there was a man named Jacques-Desire Laval living in France. He had a pretty comfortable life as a well-educated doctor.

But then he nearly died in a riding accident. After he recovered, he decided to change his life – dramatically! He gave up his medical practice, became a priest, and quite soon became a missionary sent to the island of Mauritius, which is off the coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean.

Now, I personally am not too happy about a missionary going to a foreign land to convince people that their native religion is wrong, and the missionary's religion is correct – but it's always wonderful to read about people who devote their lives to genuinely helping other people. And apparently Father Laval did just that.

The people Laval lived with were poor, uneducated people who had only recently been liberated from slavery. Laval's learned their language and participated in every facet of life with the Mauritians, helping them set up sanitation facilities, teaching them about medicine and science, and helping them better their agriculture methods. When food was scarce, Laval fasted. I read that Laval lived very humbly – even sleeping in a packing crate!

When Laval died at age 60, on this date in 1864, there was a procession behind his coffin of more than 30,000 weeping people!

The anniversary of Father Laval's death is still marked by a festival and a procession to his tomb. People put candles, flowers, or other signs of respect on his tomb.

More on Mauritius...

Mauritius is sort of a new hot-spot for tourists. When you check out photos of Mauritius, you can see why!

It's especially known for its beaches and resorts...

It's got lovely botanical gardens and an amazing crocodile park...

An unusual bit of natural beauty is called Seven-Colored Earth. Whoa!

 It's got some gorgeous rocky cliff-y coastline.

And one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, Rochester Falls, is in Mauritius.

Speaking of waterfalls, the famous “underwater waterfall” is at the southern end of Mauritius. It's just an illusion that can be seen from high in the air – but it is beautiful!

Check out this earlier post about Mauritius.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the patenting of an ice cream maker

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